Thu Mar 2–Sun Mar 5, 2023

ShadowLight Productions & Paul Dresher Ensemble

Sojourner ZY: An Asian American science fiction fantasy
Ticket sales ended for this event.

“Bay Area theater supergroup unites playwright, composer and shadow puppeteer”

San Francisco Chronicle



Sojourner ZY is an original play written by Eugenie Chan. Performed by ShadowLight Productions in their signature style of large-scale cinematic shadow theater. Featuring original music by Paul Dresher. Directed by Larry Reed.

The play is co-produced by Shadowlight Productions, New Performance Traditions/Paul Dresher Ensemble, and the Presidio Theatre.

Special pricing options are available for the preview performance on March 2 for those not able to afford a full price ticket. Please contact our box office to learn more.




The Setting

In a not-so-distant future, the Earth Federation has sent out spaceships to scour the universe for the resources necessary to sustain an environmentally depleted and damaged Earth. We follow the mission of Sojourner ZY, who pilots the last surviving spacecraft, as he communicates with Earth Federation’s Mission Control and with his wife scientist and devoted children, who struggle to survive on Earth’s  ever-more precarious environment. As he desperately tries to sack strange new worlds of their resources, he confronts uncomfortable choices and unforeseen consequences. 

Audiences will be immersed in a primal, yet futuristic landscape of sound from composer Paul Dresher’s invented instruments, cinematic-scale shadow puppet imagery, and a fantastical story that follows the interplanetary journey of the space traveler Sojourner ZY. On his journey, he encounters a dizzying array of uniquely adapted and strange civilizations. The story is told via projected and live shadow sequences with dialogue and songs, and seeks to address vital issues of all time—race, gender, identity, and the environmental crisis. 

The Journey

In ZY’s galactic travel, he encounters an array of contrasting societies, from the uber-authoritarian to the uber-altruistic: in a liquid world where beings shape-shift among sexes, ethnic, and sexual identities within miniature bubble-spheres in total anarchic paradise (until it’s not); a moonscape of mammal-headed creatures  who find abundance by adopting the animal mind to live harmoniously with nature and who follow an authoritarian leader, (until they do not); and a light-filled asteroid of intangible beings—all female—who thrive by turning themselves into pure light and sound. While each alternative offers a solution to mankind’s survival, each also yields a flaw that threatens  ZY’s vision of humanity and mankind itself.

ZY seeks common cause with these mysterious entities. But in this pursuit, he is challenged to confront age-old beliefs about mankind’s place in the natural world and the cosmos itself. By dint of his own conception of being human, is he destined to keep replicating the actions that led to the Earth’s destruction in the first place? To confront this dilemma, he must journey deep into his own Being. His travel ends with the greatest challenge, in a journey to the ultimate planet—that of the sphere of the Self.




Eugenie Chan
Larry Reed
Paul Dresher
Composer & Performer

Read creative team bios here.


I Made Moja (Co-lead designer and lead shadow performer)
Ya Wen Chien (Co-lead designer and shadow performer)
Sharon Shao (Voice actor and shadow performer)
Lydia Greer (Shadow performer, Light operator)
Jessica Nguyen (Shadow puppeteer)
Truong Nguyen (Shadow puppeteer)
Lindsay Ordesta (Shadow puppeteer)
Fred C. Riley III (Shadow puppeteer)
Jacquelyn Serrano (Digital design and animation)
Samara Lotri Tana (Shadow puppeteer and animator)
Vivienne Truong (Voice actor)
Ruby Day (Voice actor)
Gianni Piña (Voice actor)
Caryl Kientz (Managing Director/ Producer)
Joel Davel (Percussionist)

Dresher | Davel Invented Instrument Duo
The music will be performed live by the electro-acoustic duo featuring composer Dresher performing on the Hurdy Grande and Quadrachord (created and constructed in collaboration with Daniel Schmidt) and acclaimed percussionist Joel Davel performing on Don Buchla’s invented mallet instrument, the Marimba Lumina.



About ShadowLight Productions

ShadowLight was founded in 1972 by filmmaker/theater director/shadow artist Larry Reed.  The driving forces were Reed’s interests in and appreciation of shadow theater traditions, film and world cultures, and the passion to express them in an integrated fashion. He is one of the few Westerners to have trained in the traditional Balinese shadow theater and is a dalang or “shadow master.” After over 15 years of studying and performing in this tradition, Reed began expanding the scope of ShadowLight’s artistic activities in order to create a deeper connection with contemporary American audiences. Through much exploration and experimentation, he successfully integrated traditional shadow theater techniques with modern theater and film styles. The outcome was a “live animation film” – a completely original way of using shadows in theater that is not culture-bound. Performed behind and in front of a 15’x 30’ screen, these works orchestrate silhouettes of puppets, actors, and cutout sets illuminated by multiple electric light sources to create cinematic effects live on stage. Each show features live music and is created by a collaborating ensemble of writers, choreographers, composers, designers, actors, dancers, musicians and puppeteers from various cultural backgrounds, artistic disciplines and styles. 


About New Performance Traditions (Paul Dresher Ensemble)

New Performance Traditions is a hub for incubating multi-disciplinary arts projects from conception and production through performance, recording, and broadcast. They are dedicated to the creation of risk-taking and challenging performing artworks and to supporting the artists that conceive them in order to engender a more equitable, inclusive, and creative community. 

New Performance Traditions’ current projects include: The Paul Dresher Ensemble; In Studio Performances; West Oakland Sessions; the Dresher Ensemble, Artist Residency Program; Both Eyes Open, a chamber opera by Philip Kan Gotanda & Max Giteck Duykers; The Electronic Lover, a podcast opera by Lisa Mezzacappa; MEKONG — The River Runs by Vân-Ánh Võ; The Rebirth of Apsara by Charya Burt Cambodian Dance; MIMI (Museum of Invented Musical Instruments and Interval Archive for Microtonal Research); Actors’ Reading Collective, and Lightfast.


Press for Sojourner ZY

San Francisco Chronicle – February 27, 2023

Bay City News – February 27, 2023

Mercury News – February 28, 2023

The Daily Californian – February 28, 2023

San Francisco Examiner – March 1, 2023



COVID-19 Safety

Please see our Covid-19 Safety policy for current requirements.

Ticketing for Sojourner ZY

Ticket prices are subject to change. The Presidio Theatre allows returns up to 48 hours in advance of a performance. Processing fees cannot be refunded. For more information, please see the theatre’s Return Policy.

If you need assistance with ticketing please contact us at or 415-960-3949.


Thu, Mar 2
Fri, Mar 3
Sat, Mar 4
Sun, Mar 5

Run Time

60 minutes

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